It is 7.15 a.m. After a night of fishing and only an hour and a half of sleep, Yohann Regereau leaves the port of Erquy with his sailor Joris and another fishing boss from Saint-Quay-Portrieux (Côtes-d'Armor), Christopher Thiault. They would not miss the mobilization of the day for anything in the world. With 70 other boats, they met on the work area of the future wind farm in the bay of Saint-Brieuc. In order to show their firm opposition to the project, they are going to surround the "Aeolus", the platform boat which is to drill and install 62 wind turbines over 200 m high on behalf of the Ailes Marines company. The closest, 16 km from the coast, will be visible from Cape Fréhel. The site is to last three years with commissioning scheduled for the end of 2023.
Except that fishermen do not hear it that way. While scallop fishing has never been as good as this year, they fear that wind turbines in the future will disrupt their reproduction, scare away fish and generally harm biodiversity. “The bay of Saint-Brieuc is a large nursery. Animals like cuttlefish have their own habits. If we disturb them, they will go and lay their eggs elsewhere. Our future as a fisherman is at stake, ”says Christopher. It is 9 o'clock and like a swarm of rabid wasps, the 70 boats begin to circle the "Aeolus". Despite their number, they are clearly no match for this giant of the seas, 140 m long. Suspended above the waves thanks to four enormous metal stakes, the ship spits out large sprays of water.Yohann and Christopher look up: “It's impressive. It looks like a miniature city ”.
"We don't want to be paid to stay at home"
Despite the ban on sailing less than 500 m, many trawls approached very close and were called to order over the radio by the maritime gendarmerie, which monitored the mobilization.
Some fishermen came from Normandy in support.
One even sailed for 22 hours.
“It's nice to see the friends with us, it lifts our spirits,” smiles Yohann.
Perched at the top of the "Aeolus", silhouettes stand out.
The workers on the platform observe the curious merry-go-round below.
The fishermen send out distress flares and light smoke bombs whose plumes of orange smoke color the sea. They sound their sirens in a concert of protests.
After more than an hour of this show of force, the boats decided to leave the area to approach Cap Fréhel where a demonstration was organized by the associations and the local fisheries committee. About a hundred citizens and some elected officials are present. On land and at sea, opponents greet each other from afar by lighting fires and distress flares. Aware of the inconvenience caused by the construction and operation of its wind farm, Ailes Marines, wholly owned by the Spanish energy giant Iberdrola, offers financial compensation to fishermen. “We don't want to be paid to stay at home,” protests Christopher. Back in port, the fishermen are already thinking about their next action.